By now, you have heard my Sermon of April 27, or read the letter that I sent, so it is not a surprise when I mention that I will be retiring in September. It has been an incredible time. We have laughed and cried together, and in doing so, bonded as close as any family.
In the Midway, there are two pictures of our church family. One celebrates our first Consecration Sunday when we were told to sit still and hold our breath for 10 seconds. In the other, we are all out on the lawn in front of the Sanctuary. The photographer is up in a cherry picker, using a bull horn. She tells us all to take three steps back. No matter how large or how small, family pictures are a part of history.
Family dinners are also a very real part of our life together. There are many meals that nourish our fellowship. At first, I had no idea what a Chicken and Biscuit Supper was all about. Oh, now I see, chicken fricassee under a biscuit; what a treat with cranberry sauce, cole slaw and homemade pies. How great is that! I love the annual Bells Dinner; no matter what form the meal takes, it is always delicious. Every Annual Meeting begins with a wonderful meal. One year, the meeting took place on Bob and Donna Lee’s Anniversary. Bob decided on roast beef because of the personal importance of the day, and helped cook it. Someone asked about a vegetarian alternative. “That will be chicken,” he said. On Sundays, thanks to Peter and a host of volunteers, we have gone from just coffee and tea to a variety of bagels and home cooked pastries. In September, our homecoming includes a cook out with hot dogs, and maybe hamburgers, and our Jazz Sunday concludes with ice cream.
And, there are meals that nourish us in our worship. In the Lenten Season, there is a weekly meal and program. Each First Thursday in Advent, the High School youth lead us in a candlelight Communion Service with a special Word of God for all Ages. This is followed by a great big home-cooked Spaghetti Dinner. Each Maundy Thursday, we share a Lamb Stew and special Communion Service that closes with Tenebrae. Each First Sunday, we gather around the Communion Table, invited by the words: “Come, not because you must, but because you may.”
Throughout the year, there are meals that bring us together and meals that keep us together.
Love is what defines family. We may not have the same DNA, and like any family, we have our disagreements, but at the core we are one. It will be hard for me to be apart from you, but I know that a family is stronger than one person, just as one person is made stronger by the love of the family, no matter how far away. Through the seasons to come, surround Peter, and whoever follows me, with your love and support. Grow together in strength and joy as new folks find what we have and seek to make this church their home, their family.
I look forward to the summer months as a time of shared laughter and the making of yet more memories. May God’s blessing be upon you now and in all your days to come.